McKINNEY, TEXAS (November 9, 2008) -- The past four years as a pro haven't been easy for Matt Bettencourt, a player who graced the pages of amateurgolf.com in our "early years" more than just about anyone.
Northern California Amateurs know him as the 2001 NCGA Amateur champion and winner of countless other major events.
At the Nationwide Tour Championship, Bettencourt -- already assured to play the PGA Tour next year due to his 12th place rank -- started the week in pain with kidney stones. He ended it with the biggest victory of his life, capping a season with two victories, and another heartbreaking playoff loss.
With total earnings close to $500,000 in one season and a money title in hand, Bettencourt will play 2009 with the same status as a top-125 member of the 2008 PGA Tour. And if that isn't enough, he gets an automatic berth into the PLAYERS Championship.
"When the (2009 PGA TOUR) schedule is released, I can look at it and make my own schedule. Every event that I want to be in. It's just, it makes it so much easier and stressless. It's just it's a dream. It's an absolute dream," said Bettencourt, who played Sunday's final round in front of friends, family, and his fiance.
As he said himself - dreams do come true.
To really get a feel for just how exciting the Nationwide Tour Championship win was for Bettencourt, visit http://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/h045/
-- While you're there, search the archives for the Miccosukee Championship in Miami, where Bettencourt lost in a playoff to D.A. Points, in what was likely the most exciting finish in Nationwide Tour history. Points holed out on the 18th for eagle from 100 yards, then Bettencourt made a 30 foot putt to tie him, and force a playoff. Although he lost, Matt will have plenty of opportunity to see D.A. on the PGA Tour in 2009.
-- Matt's caddie is another name from the NCGA that you might recognize, JJ Jakovac of Napa, a former NCAA Division II Champion while at CSU Chico. Ironically, Jakovac wasn't on the bag for Bettencourt's first win at the Oregon Classic - he Monday qualified for the event himself but missed the cut. He was there for the rest of the season's excitement, including the putter toss and hug after the last putt dropped in Texas, and is a sure bet the 2009 season with the big show.